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Vitamins

Vitamins are a group of substances that are needed for normal cell function, growth, and development.

There are 13 essential vitamins. This means that these vitamins are required for the body to work properly. They are:

Vitamins are grouped into two categories:

Some “vitamin-like factors” are also needed by the body such as:

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Fruits and vegetables

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Function

Each of the vitamins listed below has an important job in the body. A vitamin deficiency occurs when you do not get enough of a certain vitamin. Vitamin deficiency can cause health problems.

Not eating enough fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains and fortified dairy foods may increase your risk for health problems, including heart disease, cancer, and poor bone health (osteoporosis).

Food Sources

FAT-SOLUBLE VITAMINS

Vitamin A:

Vitamin D:

Vitamin E:

Vitamin K:

WATER-SOLUBLE VITAMINS

Biotin:

Folate:

Niacin (vitamin B3):

Pantothenic acid:

Thiamine (vitamin B1):

Pyroxidine (vitamin B6):

Vitamin B12:

NOTE: Animal sources of vitamin B12 are absorbed much better by the body than plant sources.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid):

Side Effects

Many people think that if some is good, a lot is better. This is not always the case. High doses of certain vitamins can be toxic. Ask your health care provider what is best for you.

Recommendations

The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for vitamins reflect how much of each vitamin most people should get each day.

The best way to get all the daily vitamins you need is to eat a balanced diet that contains a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, fortified dairy foods, legumes (dried beans), lentils, and whole grains.

Dietary supplements are another way to get the vitamins you need if the food you eat is not supplying enough vitamins. Supplements can be helpful during pregnancy and for special medical problems.

If you take supplements, do not take more than 100% of the RDA unless you are under provider's supervision. Be very careful about taking large amounts of fat-soluble vitamin supplements. These include vitamins A, D, E, and K. These vitamins are stored in fat cells, and they can build up in your body and may cause harmful effects.

Related Information

Metabolism
Vitamin A
Retina
Thiamin
Carbohydrates
Riboflavin
Niacin
Vitamin B6
Protein in diet
Antibody
Vitamin B12
Central nervous system
Pantothenic acid and biotin
Folic acid in diet
Myelomeningocele
Vitamin C
Vitamin D
Calcium in diet
Phosphorus in diet
Vitamin E
Vitamin K

References

Mason JB. Vitamins, trace minerals, and other micronutrients. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 218.

Salwen MJ. Vitamins and trace elements. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 23rd ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2017:chap 26.

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Review Date: 2/2/2019  

Reviewed By: Emily Wax, RD, CNSC, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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